“GREAT TOOLS TO KEEP IN TOUCH” – Open Access voice mail & Lifeline cell phones

A voice mail participant tells us why having both a Lifeline cell phone and an Open Access Voice mail number is the best way to go to meet his communications needs.

Netbook Lending Library

As part of our netbook lending library, we have open computer labs where participants can learn basic skills such as using the mouse, getting an email address, find information on the internet. This broadcast was for our 50+ Generation members who will have a computer lab where technically skilled members will teach other members about computer skills.

Impact of MN State Shutdown

Broadcasts are a way that we can leave a message using our voice mail system for all voice mail participants about resources and events that may be useful and issues of concern to them. Open Access decided to ask the opinions of our low income and homeless participants in how the shutdown is impacting their everyday lives since most other surveys about the shutdown have asked for the opinions of business, community leaders, non-profits. This is our recent broadcast on the shutdown: This is Mike from Open Access Connections, formerly Twin Cities Community Voice Mail.  We are collecting stories how the government shutdown is affecting homeless and low-income Minnesotans.  Please tell us how the government shutdown is personally impacting you.  Are there services that you are no longer receiving as a result of the shutdown? How will a long term government shutdown impact you?  How is the government shutdown affecting your day to day life?  Are you experiencing more uncertainty? Responses will be shared with the governor, legislators, press, and members of the community.  You may remain anonymous if you wish.  Thank you for your willingness to share your story.


Internet Cafe Ideas

Broadcasts are a way that we can leave a message using our voice mail system for all voice mail participants about resources and events that may be useful to them and issues of concern to them. This is a recent broadcast:

“Open Access Connections, formerly Twin Cities Community Voice Mail, is one of several organizations trying to develop an internet center for people who are homeless and very low income. The vision for the center would be for it to be a place where people could learn to use computers in a supportive environment and build community. We would like to hear from you about your interest in using computers and getting on the internet. What experience have you had in current places where you access to computers publicly? What kinds of features would you like to see in such a center? Please reply at the end of this broadcast message, or call Ed at 651-603-5147.”

Homeless Against Homelessness Forum

Thanks to all of you who replied with suggestions to our message asking what issues should be a priority for the next governor and what questions you think candidates should have to answer. We received a lot of great responses and they will be used to frame questions in an upcoming candidate forum. Homeless Against Homelessness and the St. Stephen’s Human Rights Program have invited the candidates for Lieutenant Governor to a forum on Wednesday, October 6th. The forum will be held at the Salvation Army Chapel at 1010 Currie Avenue next to Harbor Lights in downtown Minneapolis. It will start at 4:00 p.m. Voter registration materials will be available at the event as well as information on the upcoming election.

Thanks again for giving us your input. Since so many of you responded, we expect that many of you will be interested in attending the forum. We hope to see you there at the Salvation Army Chapel, 1010 Currie Avenue at 4:00 on Wednesday the 6th. Find out what these candidates think about the issues surrounding homelessness and poverty.

Thanks for listening.

National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week

This week [September 13-17, 2010] has been designated as National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week, so we thought that we would let you know how the Lifeline program might benefit you.

The Telephone Discount Lifeline program is funded by a surcharge on every phone bill. This program provides people who have low incomes with a monthly discount of $10 off the price of basic home telephone service; while a similar program called Link-Up provides a 50% discount off the installation charge of new service for up to $30. In many other states, consumers have a choice between this support for traditional land line telephone service or getting a cell phone with free minutes. Cell phone companies have to apply to the state to become certified to receive the $10 per month subsidy for providing their service.

At this time there are no minimum standards regarding how many free minutes must be provided, how much can be charged for additional minutes or if customer service and 911 calls can be charged. Twin Cities Community Voice Mail has been advocating for cell phones to be an option for the Lifeline program in Minnesota. We have been submitting comments and attending hearings to advocate for a program with an adequate number of free minutes and low cost additional minutes. We are also insisting that there are no charges for customer service and 911 calls. We will continue to monitor the situation and we will let you know as soon as there is a Lifeline program providing cell phones in Minnesota.

Thanks for listening.

Issues for Our Next Governor to Address

Twin Cities Community Voice Mail is partnering with St. Stephen’s Human Rights Program in an effort to get out the vote this November when Minnesota will be electing a new governor. If we arranged for the candidates to come to a forum what questions do you think we should ask them? If you need some more time to think about questions, we will be sending out another message in a few days that you can respond to then. If you do have a suggestion now, then respond at the end of this message or call 651-603-5147.

Leave us a message with questions you would like to ask our next governor, or what you feel are the top issues. Thanks for your input. It’s important for us to hear. Thanks for listening.

March, 2010

This is the first of a series of broadcasts that Open Access Connections will be doing on the 2010 Census and why it is important for everyone to be counted.

Every 10 years a census is done to count everybody who is living in the United States. The 2010 census is now underway.  We have a lot to gain if everyone in our communities is counted but we also lose when some people in our communities are not counted by the census.

Data collected by the 2010 census will determine how the federal government will distribute hundreds of billions of dollars to states and communities. If there are people living in a community who haven’t been counted, that community will receive less money for important resources. It has been estimated that for 100 people who are missed in the count one million dollars in funding, over a ten year period, is lost to the community.

Information collected by the Census on employment, income, housing, homelessness and health has to be accurate so that enough money is made available to provide services to address these needs within our communities.

If the people of Minnesota are undercounted in the 2010 Census we may lose a congressional representative and Minnesota will have less of a voice in national politics. So, we hope you see how important it is to be counted.

We will be providing you with more messages about why it is safe for you to participate in the Census and how simple it is to participate. If you would like to attend a meeting to learn more about the census, please leave your name and voice mail number with a reply to this message, or call 651-603-5147.

January, 2010

On February 6th and 7th, free dental care will be offered at various locations to low income children who do not have dental coverage.

To make an appointment, call 211, the United Way number, or 1-800-543-7709. United way staff will give you a number to call in your area. You will then have to call that number and make the appointment.

July, 2009

Hunger Solutions Minnesota recently started the Minnesota Food Helpline, a toll-free, statewide food resource helpline. Callers can find out if they are eligible for Food Support  and get assistance with completing the application for Food Support.  Food Support is the new name for the former food stamps program. Callers can also be helped in locating food resources like food shelves and hot meal sites in their own community.

So call the Minnesota Food Helpline to find out if you are eligible for Food Support and to get assistance with finding food resources in your area.

The helpline number is 1-888-711-1151. There are people available to answer your calls Monday through Friday from 8:30 until 4:30.